London Welsh captain Jonathan Mills insists they can compete

Jonathan Mills

London Welsh captain Jonathan Mills insists the Premiership newcomers can compete in English rugby's top flight, despite their heavy defeat to Leicester in this weekend's season opener.

Welsh were beaten 38-13 by the Tigers at the Kassam Stadium, but Mills say they can be proud of their performance.

"We know we are not the finished article and have a lot of hard work to do," Mills told BBC Radio Oxford.

"But we know there will be other teams in this league we can compete against."

Welsh trailed 17-10 at the break, and Mills admits it was a tough opener for his side, but one they relished.

"We've got to play everybody at some point during the season so why not play Leicester first up," he said.

"It was a shame we didn't stop Leicester scoring straight after half time and if we could have kept it 17-10 for a little bit longer then maybe we would have got a foothold in the game.

"But maybe we were a little bit nervous. We didn't have too many second-half opportunities and they scored a couple of tries that killed the game."

The Exiles had their preparations for their maiden Premiership campaign hindered by a protracted process of promotion from the Championship that involved appealing against a Rugby Football Union decision not to allow them into the top flight despite winning the second-tier competition.

It effectively left Welsh with just two months prepare their squad and Mills feels the short space of time has had an impact.

"We know we are not the finished article and have a lot of hard work to do. We are probably about four weeks away in our preparations due to the delay in knowing that we had been promoted and we have a lot to work on," he continued.

"There are a lot of positives to take from the game. We went 17-0 down and pulled it back to 17-10 at half time. A couple of decisions could have gone our way and things might have been different.

"But the scrum went very well and I think we showed we can compete in this league. We have a couple of boys to come back in and there are a lot of positives to take into Friday's game against Quins."